Sen. Deschambault introduces bill to support domestic violence survivors

Posted: April 07, 2021 | Judiciary, Senator Deschambault

AUGUSTA — On Tuesday, Sen. Susan Deschambault, D-Biddeford, introduced a bill to support domestic violence survivors by making it a Class C crime to violate orders that are similar to protection orders. LD 803, “An Act Regarding Violation of a Protection Order,” was the subject of a public hearing in the Legislature’s Committee on Judiciary.

Sen. Susan Deschambault

“This past summer, I received a call from an acquaintance who stated she feared for her niece who had been the victim of a domestic assault,” said Sen. Deschambault. “Her niece, the victim of a violent act by her male partner, was living in a neighboring state and sought and received a Protection from Abuse Order following the assault. However, she continued to feel helpless in the situation. Fearing he would find her, she decided to seek refuge with her family in Maine. A short while later, he was reportedly in Maine seeking contact with her, and the family began to seek some protection and relief. The male partner did not have a criminal record in Maine, but the fear and likelihood of another assault was real for the young woman and her extended family members. Unfortunately, this experience is all too common here in Maine. LD 803 would strengthen protections for domestic violence survivors.”

During Fiscal Year 2020, the Maine courts had nearly 20,000 filings in the Family Division; of this total, half were for Protection from Abuse and Family Matters Post-Judgment. It has also been widely reported nearly half of the homicides in Maine involved domestic violence.

In Maine, violating protection order is a Class C crime. LD 803 would mandate that violations to orders that are similar to protection orders and that have been issued by a court of the United States or of another state, territory, commonwealth or tribe would also be considered a Class C crime in the state of Maine.

Shira Burns, Assistant District Attorney in York County, testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Maine Prosecutors’ Association.

“Victim safety and offender accountability are on the forefront of every domestic violence prosecutor’s mind,” said Burns. “Unfortunately, under the current statute, victim safety and offender accountability is fluid depending on where a victim obtains a protection from abuse order.”

LD 803 faces further action in committee.